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The music department is delighted to welcome Amanda Hsieh, Assistant Professor in Musicology at Durham University. Her work has appeared in Cambridge Opera Journal, the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, and Music & Letters, and in 2020 she received the RMA’s Jerome Roche Prize.

Staging Hänsel und Gretel in Japan, 1913

In this talk, Dr. Hsieh's examines in this talk the 1913 staging of Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel at the Tokyo Imperial Theatre, which opened in 1911 as Japan’s first Western-style theatre. The Theatre’s operatic venture, among the earliest for the Japanese public, has normally been credited to the Italian ballet master Giovanni Vittorio Rosi, who the theatre had hired to lead its opera department from 1912 to 1916 (Facius, 2021; Matsumoto 2017; Yamada 2015). However, by studying the theatre programmes, production photos, and relevant commentaries in newspapers and magazines, Dr. Hsieh argues that the 1913 Hänsel, a post-Wagnerian fairy-tale opera, represented an occasion on which the Japanese actively assuaged its fervent Wagnerism before they could undertake Wagner’s monumental works (Takenaka 2021; McCorkle Okazaki 2018).

Instead of an instance where Rosi enchanted the Japanese audience with his European expertise, the 1913 translated and abridged version of Hänsel was to a large extent the collective effort of the translator-playwright Shōyō Matsui (Masui 2003); members of the Imperial Theatre’s affiliated arts school, which began as the actress Sada Yacco’s Imperial Actress Training School (Ito 2009); and supporters such as industrialist Ichizō Kobayashi and playwright Kaoru Osanai, for promoting the acceptance of actresses on stage (Yamanashi 2012). Dr. Hsieh foregrounds Japanese involvement – their agency and creativity – in a hitherto Eurocentric interpretation of the history of Japan’s Hänsel, challenging the received wisdom depicting Japan as merely imitative in its pursuits of Western modernity.

All talks take place in the Saint Davids Room (above the Great Hall, and opposite the chapel, in the King’s Building, Strand) and everyone is welcome!

Event details

Saint Davids Room
Strand Campus
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS

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